Chennai is probably more cosmopolitan than any city in the South. I know our friends in Bangalore would disagree, but the city today has a healthy population of people from other states. And they chose Chennai as their destination because it is one of the most liveable cities in India—if you can overlook the ‘mild’ heat!
Radio has to connect with this new cosmo-crowd. But there is just one English station and more than a fistful of regional frequencies on air now. The question is: will a station with another choice of language and play list work in this city? Ten years back the answer would have been a ‘no’ and it would have come at you faster than a bullet. However, today radio players are looking into this angle, which is a very good sign. It would be even better if they took this thought and made it a reality.
In Chennai, all is well when it comes to the viewership of Hindi films. They get the same footfalls as any other movie. In fact, regional movie buffs don’t mind watching a Hindi film and vice versa, and a Lungi dance is as popular as Appidi podai! These are positives which give us listeners some hope of getting another niche station.
However, the talks in the boardroom would not be about the popularity of Hindi music and its consumers, but about whether this format would get advertisers interested. It is a new venture and no brand can achieve overnight success. But having said that, why wouldn’t it work? It’s not as if it’s a foreign language—it just has to be introduced to the crowd with a lot of care.
The moment another language of choice like Hindi comes in, I’m pretty sure there would be takers for a Malayalam radio unit, given the massive Malayali population in Chennai. Whatever comes first, the option needs to be put out there for the listener to sample. This will change the city’s radio sky line and it should happen sooner than later. See you next week.
—Niladri (firstname.lastname@example.org)The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.